Are there any employment law specialists on here?

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Found 27th Sep 2017
I have an issue in work and was wondering if there are any employment law specialists who are able to assist me in anyway?

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Original Poster
I work in IT but the set up of the team is very strange but a colleague in my team, who is a grade above me has taken partial retirement. So he is off every friday.

I have noticed that the expectation has fallen on me to take on certain additional tasks that might come in when he is off despite nobody having a conversation with me about it. So there is an expectation and an assumption.

I raised the matter with my line manager who brought up an element of my job description which she believes covers this issue which then means that she and senior management believe I should provide the cover every Friday which is a possible 20% of a working week. The quantity of work that could come in is unknown but it is still an expectation that I will cover should it be required. That element of my job description reads like this:

"Support the Facilities officer by providing phone cover and carrying out other facilities related tasks as required by the line manager" This accounts for 10% of my job.

So, I argued the fact that the word support is in there in relation to supporting my colleague who has taken partial retirement when he is here. In my opinion the word support and cover mean two different things. The cover relates to covering the phone. She then says that the 10% covers his partial retirement but I have argued the fact that the 10% of my job description only stands true if I am supporting him while he is in the office.

I am really banging my head against a brick wall here. Management seem to be trying to hold that element of my Job Description up as a way of covering every Friday when my colleague is off.

I would really appreciate any advice and help here from a legal perspective because I really do feel as though they are taking advantage of me but they are also disregarding anything that I say. For the first time in my working life I feel as though I have nowhere to turn and it is actually causing me some stress.
Maybe I'm thinking the old school way but are you working the same number of hours in the week? if so then what's the problem. There are only so many hours in the day and how you fill that time is up to your employer, if you can fit in your normal work and then the extra 20% into that same working week then you cant have been 100% productive before?
Original Poster
That is the issue. I have my own job and my own tasks that take up a lot of my time and so, the assumption that I can absorb the extra possible 20% of someone from a higher level does not seem right. They have not discussed it with me prior to him taking partial retirement, so they have just left me to it.
this is not a law issue but a work practical issue. it is always the case with work that you are expected to cover for colleagues when they are not there if the employer does not feel like employing any further resource. IT in particular is a terrible industry to work in where you are expected to deal with issues and work that you have no knowledge of, or are beyond your knowledge.

there is not much you can do but try to keep up with it, else move job, but you will find the same sort of problem will happen with all IT employers where it is pretty much chaos working practice.
mutley is right - it is not a law issue. Don't pursue it as that as if you do it will leave a bad taste for all concerned and you will certainly lose in the long term.

I'd actually look upon this as an opportunity - it is an opportunity for you to impress in standing up in a more senior role. Do the job well on a Friday and when your colleague steps down further you will be in a very good position to get his role!

I once read an excellent book called "Management" by Hal Geneen who was the CEO of ITT (back in the day) who said "In the business world, everyone is paid in two coins: cash and experience. Take the experience first; the cash will come later." I'd take this advice - do the best you can now and at some point in the future you will get your reward!
Edited by: "Van1973" 27th Sep 2017
Original Poster
Thanks for the advice guys. I spoke with ACAS who said that I need to provide evidence that I have taken on more work but that is it really.
If you have been in the workplace for any amount of time and this is the first time this has happened to you, you have been very lucky so far. That's how business works. They want the maximum work for the minimum outlay, that is how they increase the profit margin. If it is your job description that you provide that cover, then that is what you must do. If you can provide it, you are in a good position to ask for an upgrade as you are doing a job which was more highly paid. If there is more work than you are capable of dealing with, your employers will recognise this when it starts to cost them money. All I can say is keep all your evidence of the extra work you are doing.
Your employer is unlikely to have agreed to one worker reducing their hours without firstly determining there was sufficient cover to do this. If it is written in your contract that you will provide such support, you haven't got much wriggle room. It's a dog eat dog world out there. Sorry I can't be more positive but that is just the way things are.
Work in IT myself and this happens all the time. I understand this is the complete opposite response but my advise would be, take on the work with as little fuss as possible. I'm not sure how senior your position already is but in IT if you want to make yourself more valuable and get yourself in a better position to negotiate a higher salary/position you need to take on as many responsibility's as possible.
Get it covered, give it a couple of months then go to your manager and explain how you deserve more money as your now doing 20% of the work of your senior and you did so without causing any disruptions to business.
Obviously if they refuse that and expect the extra work with no reward then I'd suggest you look elsewhere with the added work load of a senior now on your C.V BUT trying to wiggle out of extra work and responsibility's by pointing out the specific clauses of your contract is by far the worse way to progress in any kind of work, even more so in IT.
I would agree with the responses here so far.
I have been trying to think up a second best scenario for you:
Firstly might be an idea that there is no more fussing about what's going on - at least to your line managers. They already know you're unhappy about this situation (Respect for highlighting it to them by the way).
Secondly, just work at the normal pace (assuming in your appraisals management are happy with how you are performing) and then when 'management' find that, oops, not all the extra work they are piling on you is getting finished on time, they will need to rethink.
All the while, be lovely, friendly and very helpful in all your attitudes. The reason is it is so easy for line management to think the problem is with a person when it's really about how they are managing resources.
Original Poster
Thanks for the responses and I agree. Although I was not best pleased at first, I have decided to record everything that I do when my colleague is off and log how long it takes me. Over time, I should be able to build up a clear picture of what I am doing.

I probably shouldn't look at it this way but it forms 10% of my job which if you look at that in terms of timing, it equates to 3hrs and 42 minutes a week. The thing is, I provide cover on a Friday from 9-4. So that is already over and above the 10%. Not to mention the other things I do during the week!
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